How I Used NES In My Classroom: Meet Teacher Deidre Mangin
Deidre Mangin is a general science teacher for grades 5-8 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Germantown, Tenn. A nine-year teaching veteran, Deidre was drawn to the NASA Explorer Schools, or NES, project because of the featured lessons, which provided background information, professional development Web seminars, and site support. The lessons even included supply lists.
NES asked Mangin some questions about using the NES content in her classroom.
Which featured lessons did you use, and how did you integrate the lessons into your established curriculum to support your objectives?
Engineering Design Challenge: Water Filtration
I used this featured lesson as a performance assessment to extend a unit on water as the universal solvent. It was a great way to practically apply what the students knew about water and conservation.
Heat, Temperature and Energy: MESSENGER: Cooling With Sunshades
I used the MESSENGER: Cooling With Sunshades module to extend and refine a unit on energy. After my students had studied a variety of energy sources and how we use them on Earth, we moved our existing knowledge "into space" and applied it.
NASA Now Classroom Videos
I like using the NASA Now Classroom Videos as an introduction to my lessons. I liked the fast pace of the presentations. Even though some of them are tagged for older kids, I think the videos fit well into the middle school classroom.
I used other NES materials as performance assessments to test students’ practical application of knowledge.
What was your overall experience with the NES content?
I liked the NES featured lessons. I usually made some type of modification to support my curriculum. The information was clearly presented, but some of the supplies are expensive, like micrometers.
I have found that the set-up time is occasionally a concern. I teach four grade levels each day, and each has its own curriculum. I spend quite a bit of time outside of school collecting my materials and organizing them because I don’t have time between classes once my rotation begins.
What would you tell other teachers who aren't sure about using the NES content?
I would definitely encourage other teachers to participate in the NES project. There is a diverse offering of materials. I also appreciate the opportunities for teacher and school recognition. Using textbooks and printed information is not enough these days. Science teachers in particular need to keep up with current information, innovative methods and STEM integration. The NES materials bring real science into the classroom.
Everything that you need to know is in the teacher’s guide. I would also encourage other teachers to explore all of the materials and not limit themselves to considering these materials as space-driven. The lessons can integrate into all the sciences.
I would recommend all of the activities. The NES program is still new to me though, so I would tell another teacher to get into the materials and check them all out. I feel like I only scratched the surface of possibilities last year.
How did the students respond to the NES content?
I try to present a student-directed curriculum. We use hands-on activities in all topics and areas to give students the maximum understanding. My students love the NES featured lessons and were very excited to explore the options last year. I always tell them when we use NASA materials.
I have already had my 7th grade ask when they get to do the water filtration project this year. They saw it in action last year and are anxious to try it out.
Were the students more excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, after the content?
My students are definitely excited about STEM activities. We build many solutions to problems throughout the year, and the NES materials were a good support in our engineering endeavors.
Did you use any other technology when implementing the featured lessons?
I have a teamboard that was fun to use with the (International Space Station) walkthrough at the NASA site. My students created slide presentations and multimedia presentations. They also wrote songs about the sun and performed them in videos.
Did you engage anyone in the students' families or community?
I think family and community engagement is one of my strengths. Each year, I plan a family and community science event for our school and parish community. I host Family Science Nights in conjunction with the school science fair. My middle school students plan and develop different stations for families to do hands-on experiments when they visit the fair. Last year, instead of hosting a traditional science fair, we celebrated National Engineers Week in April. Our classes from 4th to 8th grade were given engineering challenges to complete. I invited engineers from the community to come into the school and present career information to all of the elementary classes. They designed vehicles that were involved in a distance competition. The culminating event was Engineering Night. We had 250 people attend from the school and community. There were interactive engineering stations as well as our car finales. The 4th- and 5th-grade vehicles were from a NASA/Design Squad challenge.
Will you do more featured lessons this next year?
Yes. I have actually started the Engineering Design Challenge on Spacecraft Structures.
Please visit the About NASA Explorer Schools
section to learn more about the benefits of registration.
› NASA Explorer Schools 2011 Teacher Selections
› Sample NASA Now Video